"Conservative" may not be the first word that comes to mind when one considers mammoth projects such as Micron Technology's semiconductor plant and Thanksgiving Point's 400 acres of greenery.
But when it comes to Lehi's proposed 1996-97 general-fund budget, conservative estimates are what city officials want. The city is taking a cautious approach to projecting revenues just in case Lehi's piece of the Micron property-tax pie collected by the county is smaller than some say it might be."We have tried to be very conservative in estimating the numbers," said City Councilman Reed Sunderland, who oversaw the budget preparation process while Mayor Bill Gibbs was on sick leave.
Despite the conservative approach, the city projects tax revenues of nearly $2.4 million, jumping from $1.6 million last year. City officials attribute the increase to taxes generated by Micron and Thanksgiving Point, as well as an increase of approximately 10 percent in sales-tax revenues.
The city's proposed general-fund budget, which adds up to nearly $4.4 million, was presented to the City Council this week. A public hearing to approve the final budget is scheduled for June 11.
Increased revenues could mean the city won't have to dip into enterprise funds for general-fund expenditures for the first year in a long time, Sunderland said. It also could mean salary hikes for city employees.
"We're trying to get our city employees' salaries in line with those of cities of like size," Sunderland said.
The suggested budget shows increases in salary and benefits for the city's courts, administration, police, public works, library and parks departments. Those increases are due to wage hikes as well as the expected hiring of at least four new employees, Sunderland said.
The reason for showing conservative figures, city officials say, is the question of how much Micron's property is worth. Utah County assessors won't give Micron its property-tax notice until next week, so Lehi officials were unsure what the value of the property and improvements would be.
In preparing its proposed budget, the city estimated the worth of Micron's property at $250 million, Sunderland said. That figure nearly equals the value of all the improved property taxed in Lehi last year.
General fund: $4,354,665
General fund: $3,996,579
Where it comes from:
Last year: $1,607,546
Licenses and permits: $531,169
Last year: $508,500
Service charges: $148,214
Last year: $129,500
Fines and forfeitures: $300,000
Last year: $110,000
Last year: $242,900
Where it goes:
Last year: $810,163
Last year: $780,850
Last year: $378,400
Public works: $487,586
Last year: $355,713
Last year: $66,410